Sunday, April 13, 2008

Here We Go Again

Lonely Planet writer says he made up part of books | Top News | Reuters: "MELBOURNE (Reuters) - An author for the Lonely Planet travel guidebook series has claimed that he plagiarised and made up large sections of his books, an Australian newspaper reported on Sunday.

Author Thomas Kohnstamm told the Sunday Telegraph newspaper he had worked on more than a dozen books for Lonely Planet, including their titles on Brazil, Colombia, the Caribbean, South America, Venezuela and Chile."


Anonymous said...

A friend of mine swears by the lonely planet books, having travelled around the world twice with them. However, they have gotten her into trouble on more than one occasion, as the information was outdated or incorrect. She actually visited these places, on a budget, and they should have paid her to write sections of the books (why not do it as an online Wiki in this day and age?).

I lost faith quickly with Lonely Planet after travelling to Mexico and finding most of the data was severely outdated - RV and camping sites listed that were closed years ago, for example. It was clear they just took data out of an older book.

The Lonely Planet guides have a certain hip cache with the younger backpack crowd, but as a useful guide, they are less than stellar, and can get you into some serious trouble in 3rd world countries, as you stagger around with wrong directions looking for a hotel that closed in 1988.

It is a shame that this author simply didn't turn down the work. Instead, he blames the publishers for not paying him enough to do the actual work.

Sounds like a typical American (to the rest of the world). Nothing is ever our fault, eh?

Unknown said...

Maybe the guy will make enough from his book to allow him to travel to some of the places he wrote about.

Colin said...

As a college instructor who teaches students to do careful background research on any website they use as a source, this is a disturbing story. It seems we can't even trust publishing houses anymore as to the veracity of their authors' claims.

I agree that the author should probably have just turned the work down, and that the brunt of the blame lies with him, but Lonely Planet is ultimately responsible for what they publish. I, for one, won't rely on their travel guides in the future.

What bothers me more, however, is where I should turn next? If anyone can write anything they want online and, apparently, anyone can write anything they want in a book published by a major publishing house, where do I go for reliable information?

Maybe we should go back to being explorers, and rely less on these "safety nets". I went to Italy as a student in the early 90s, and I took no guidebooks. I asked locals what I should see in their areas, and I didn't feel like I missed much.

Unknown said...

With all the falsified memoirs lately, and now this, it seems as if nobody's telling the truth anymore. Since you did okay without guidebooks, maybe that's the answer.

Anonymous said...

So, Kohnstamm has written a new book about life as a travel book writer. Uh, is that fiction, too?

Unknown said...

Kinda makes you wonder, doesn't it.